Review – Dead Ringer, by Kate Kessler

Dead Ringer
by Kate Kessler

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Length: 352 Pages

Release date: October 23, 2018

Publisher: Redhook


A gripping thriller by Kate Kessler (author of the Audrey Harte novels), in which an FBI agent becomes entwined in a missing persons case that directly connects to a horrific event from her past.

Eighteen years ago, FBI Agent Rachel Ward’s mirror twin, Hannah, was taken by the Gemini killer, a serial killer who delights in sending photos of his victims to their twins. Rachel assumes her sister has been dead for years, but she’s never stopped hunting the monster who took her. Now, another twin has been taken, and when the case reopens, Rachel is assigned as an agent. But her relentless hunt for the killer may drive her to her breaking point.



Disclaimer: I won a free ARC of Dead Ringer in a GoodReads Giveaway. All opinions are my own. 

I truly hate being the first person to voice a negative opinion about a book, and other reviewers on GoodReads seemed to love this one, but this was definitely a dud for me. Dead Ringer was filled with twists and turns, but you’ll see every last one of them coming a mile away.

When I read mystery/thrillers I don’t put a lot of thought into them as I’m reading, intentionally so. I treat these books like candy, and I’d much rather be surprised than be able to pat myself on the back for guessing correctly. So if I’m seeing every plot point coming in a book like this, there’s a problem. I’m sure a lot of the foreshadowing was intended to build a sense of foreboding, but I also didn’t find it remotely frightening, so all it did was suck any mystery out of it.

There was also the issue of what felt like lazy writing. Instead of showing us how the protagonist, Rachel, is feeling, the author routinely has Rachel’s boyfriend, Trick, ask her how she’s feeling about specific events, so that Rachel can simply monologue about it to the reader. Rachel’s thoughts and feelings could have been much more seamlessly woven into the story, especially considering she’s the POV character. This method was clunky and felt like the author didn’t know how else to tell us what Rachel was thinking.

In case Rachel’s ordeal fails to get your heart racing, the author has a backup plan, which is switching to graphic descriptions of the sexual abuse suffered by the kidnapped twin, Hannah. So, that’s… fun? (Is this considered a spoiler? I mean, we’ve got a serial killer kidnapping teenage girls, so it’s pretty much the obvious.) Basically, graphic sexual abuse and occasional violence were used in place of actually suspenseful plotting. It reminded me a bit of The Butterfly Garden, by Dot Hutchison, except The Butterfly Garden actually managed to be spine-tingling. In short, this was not my cup of tea.

Purchase links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Thank you for reading! Have you read any good thrillers lately? Discuss in the comments!


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